I think we often tend to underestimate the intricate wonder of evolution, and by extension of life in general. It is not only incredible, but it is also scary, bizarre, funny and inspiring.
One of the best examples of this is the Mantis Shrimp, which was featured on the webcomic The Oatmeal recently. But there are many more. In fact, there is a whole blog dedicated to the weird and wondrous creations of evolution. Very appropriately, it’s called, WTF, Evolution?
I’ve recently come across Bird and Moon, the wonderful website of Rosemary Mosco. She does fun and poignant web comics, charts and diagrams depicting the weird and wonderful ways of animals, plants and biologists. Here’s a couple of examples:
No sci-fi alien is so startlingly strange. Here is someone who, even if she grows to one hundred pounds and stretches more than eight feet long, could still squeeze her boneless body through an opening the size of an orange; an animal whose eight arms are covered with thousands of suckers that taste as well as feel; a mollusk with a beak like a parrot and venom like a snake and a tongue covered with teeth; a creature who can shape-shift, change color, and squirt ink. But most intriguing of all, recent research indicates that octopuses are remarkably intelligent.
“Octopuses,” writes philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith, “are a separate experiment in the evolution of the mind.”
Just check out this mimic octopus in action:
Also, the article notes that research conducted on the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis, a color-changing cousin of octopuses, show that its skin contains gene sequences usually expressed only in the light-sensing retina of the eye. In other words, cephalopods—octopuses, cuttlefish, and squid may be able to see with their skin.